Monday, February 21, 2011
"They never have to work or spin;yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his royal robes was dressed like one of these. Now if that is how God dresses the wildflowers growing in the field which are there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will God not much more look after you, you who have so little faith? So do not worry." (Matthew 6:28-31)
Jesus invites us to look around us and see how God cares for nature, such as birds and wildflowers. We are more precious to God than any of the natural world. We can put ourselves entirely in God's hands, confident that God has the concern and the power to look out for us.
This entire passage about trusting God first appealed to me when I was in the high school seminary. It helped me not to worry about my studies. It has continued to be a comfort for me, helping me to put in God's hands whatever threatens me. Sometimes I still worry as if everything depended on my efforts. Then I look at the stars and the seasons and the woods and streams and know that I am in good hands. I want always to pay attention to Jesus in my heart whispering, "Do not worry."
Sunday, February 13, 2011
The Sermon on the Mount was more likely on a hill, like these hills of Galilee viewed from a boat on the Sea of Galilee, which is not a sea but a lake! The sermon is a collection of some of the things that Jesus said.
One saying is: "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) That seems a ridiculous order, impossible to obey. But once I realize that I can't make myself perfect, that the Father is the one who will do that, it's not impossible at all. God lives in me and wants to share with me his perfection.
In 1st Corinthians St. Paul asks us, "Do you not realize that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?" (3:16) The Spirit of God within me can make me as perfect as my heavenly Father. I delay the process by putting sin and selfishness and self-centeredness in the way, but the Spirit can knock those down too, if I let the Spirit work.
In Matthew the order to be as perfect as God comes at the end of a short section in which Jesus says, "Love your enemies...so that you may be children of your Father in heaven, for he causes his sun to rise on the bad as well as the good, and sends down rain on the upright and the wicked alike." (5:44-45) I think this is the most important thing we believe about God, that God loves everyone the same. That means that I don't earn God's love. God's love is gracious, unearned, freely given. So the best way to see how close I am coming to the perfection of my heavenly Father is to check my way of loving and see if it is gracious, unearned, freely given to everyone, even my enemies.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
These two mountains, striking in appearance, have become the symbol of St. Lucia. They are represented as triangles on the national flag. I had forgotten how truly beautiful this whole scene is. Viewed from the porch of this perfectly placed resort or from our departing airplane, the Pitons are majestic reminders of volcanic eruptions 30 or 40 million years ago.
It makes me think of our earth growing and evolving through eons and of the same God present in that process who was present to me in my experience of the Pitons and who is present to me now in the frozen, snow covered Lake. The Divine Now.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
This is the stunning view of Marigot Bay from where I stayed with some friends on a recent vacation on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. The house we rented was handsome and spacious with a large porch where we could spend a lot of time gazing at this view. The weather was sunny and warm. My companions were more than easy to be with and made the whole time perfect. All of this conspired to keep me aware that I was living in God.
At Mass we pray to God, "In you we live and move and have our being." At Christmas this year an apt metaphor that helped me grasp this mystery was God moving through dimensions that we cannot imagine to become one of us. This other invisible dimension where God lives is here and now. God permeates all that I am and everyone and everything around me. The beauty and spaciousness and warmth and love that I experienced in this setting is one way God uses to stir me into recognizing his constant presence.